PR – Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, has challenged the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to be more aggressive in its approach to helping Grenada and other CDB member states address developmental challenges.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday had an introductory virtual call with the new CDB President Dr. Hyginus “Gene” Leon and senior members of his team.
In a conversation that was punctuated with light banter, but which addressed several critical issues, the Prime Minister also called for more innovation in the execution of the CDB’s mandate.
He said, “These are tough times for the region and the CDB and its personnel have to become even more innovative in serving member states. It cannot be business as usual in this time of crisis. The pandemic has created enormous challenges but it has also opened up immense opportunities and we must find a way to harness these for the benefit of the region’s development.”
Dr. Mitchell, who has served on the CDB Board of Governors in the past, said from his experience, the bank tends to be too bureaucratic and when dealing with the bureaucracies of regional governments, this compounds the problem.
The Prime Minister referenced the fact that Grenada has been seeking the bank’s support for an assessment of hazards across the country for many years, particularly as it relates to loosened boulders rolling down from hillsides and posing a threat to motorists and others.
He said, “If those who sit at the top do not change the structure and demand accountability, it may not happen. I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough in terms of addressing the bureaucracy. We are too settled in our own comfort zones while there are many people suffering, waiting for us to create opportunities that can help them. I therefore challenge the bank to act more aggressively in delivering on its mandate.”
The Prime Minister expressed full confidence that Dr. Leon, with his extensive experience at the International Monetary Fund, will serve the CDB and the region well.
Dr. Leon for his part, thanked the Grenadian leader and his OECS counterparts for rallying behind his nomination and placing immense trust and confidence in him.
Pledging his full commitment to the task ahead, Dr. Leon, like the Prime Minister, spoke on the subject of innovation. He said, “I hope I will have the full cooperation of all members as we work together to advance the CDB and the region. In the next 50 years when we look back, we should be able to say definitively, that the CDB made a difference. The institution must be adaptable, nimble and responsive to the needs of members and it must communicate better.”
Citing what he termed the reticence and frustration of Caribbean leaders with respect to the CDB, the new President said, “I want to rebuild, reset and start a new stage where we can genuinely say this is our institution. I want to be able to speak freely to leaders to see how we can make the bank a genuine instrument to advance regional development. I want to see even greater participation in our annual meeting as we chart the three
dimensional approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic – immediate rescue, recovery and longer term development issues.”
Dr. Leon identified some broad areas for collaboration including infrastructure, vulnerability to climate change and generating more growth through economic diversification. He looks forward to active engagement with regional countries in crystalising elements of the bank’s next strategic plan and how countries can maximise the benefits derived from the regional financial institution.
The cordial discussion ended with consensus on strengthening the bank’s relationship with Grenada. In closing Dr. Mitchell said, “The region needs us all. This concept of unity and going forward together is crucial to what we want to achieve for the entire region.”